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Make use of main social platforms for designing and operating

There are some features that are common across all platforms. Like people, invite, request, leaderboard, achievement, etc. Though there may be some differences in specification and use cases, they share common aspects to meet user’s same needs.

What can we make use of social platforms?

Today, most f2p games are distributed into various social platforms, like Facebook, Google play, App store, etc. And those platforms provide game developers with all kinds of tools, API, SDK, to facilitate game development. How does game designer use those platforms to enhance attraction, retention, and monetization of games?This article focus on those aspects.

There are some features that are common across all platform. Like people, invite, request, leaderboard, achievement, etc. Though there may be some differences in specification and use cases, they share common aspects to meet user’s same needs. What can we use those features in game design and user experience design?I propose some example to evoke discussion.

Example of applying

Leaderboard and scores

When user completed a level and gain a high score, you should let users share score to their social network sites, like Facebook, Mixi, Mobaga, so their friends will notice that new feed, and users express themselves through sharing. You should also let user challenge their friends immediately, this is when they most desire to. And you should show the leaderboard as well. By that user knows their performance in social context.

Achievements

If your game features achievements, and it is the main gameplay of the game, you should consider showing achievements in-game. then users can see achievements and challenge their friends in the first place. Even better showing your friends’achievements in context. So you may arise desire to gain one or challenge your friends.

Show social context before, on and after-going quest

Give your users social contexts when they are before, on, and after a quest. Social context is important for enhancing user’s driving force. So not only show them when finished, show them all the time. Not only show them friend’s leaderboard, show them friend’s on-going challenging.

Show social context before quest challenge

Show social context on quest challenge

Multiplayer game

In multiplayer game, you should consider that let people choose inviting friends and auto-matching, and if they choose invite friends, you should show them friends availability, whether they are free, busy, or offline. When user have sent invitations, their friends should be noticed via push notification or in-game notification depending on their play status.

Video and replay sharing

To increase attractiveness and competitiveness, you could consider using sharing video records or game replays feature to let user share their exciting moments into Facebook or mobile apps with challenge links to promote your app.

Next paragraph, I willintroduce some prevailing social platforms for utilizing in game design and operation across processes of distribution, retention and monetization. Those platform include SNS platforms that users can share their experience with friends, like Facebook, Mobage, Mixi, or mobile platform, like Game Center and Google Play. You could consider using them as a checklist for practicing. Some paragraph is excerpted from platform developer doc for convinences, and organized for game designer uses. Thanks.

Facebook

Facebook is the largest social game portal and feature its cross-platform supports. Because it is a social website, you can also utilize its big user base, and can share game experience with others. Facebook provide powerful social feature that you can use in your game.

Distribute

App center

App center is where users find your game, so fill your information clearly and attractively. They may have a try of your game. No matter how excellent your game design, if no user play your game, all is nonsense.

Facebook login

Use Facebook login is better for user experience, so attract more users to play. And can make use of big user base of Facebook

Associate game with Facebook page

This will add a 'Play Game' and a 'Visit App Page' button to the page.

So it is a good way to promote game.

Cross-promotion

A powerful tool to promote your games. When user like your one game, they likely like your other games.

Cross-Platform Games

Let user play games in different platform while keeping a consistent, continue and complementary experience is good way to attract, engage and monetize users.

Gameplay

Fluid Canvas

Use Fluid Canvas to allow users to expand the size of your game based on the user's browser dimensions.

Login flow 

By loading some simple game graphics in the Canvas iframe before launching the dialog, you can give players a taste of the game before they log in, helping them to make a more informed decision about granting permissions to your game.

Display prominent social context

Providing a friends’ progress bar UI in the game or display a scoreboard positioning the player amongst their friends.

Share

Share story

You can share story using the Opengraph for Custom story or just share easy light story.

You can share via the Share dialogue or via Graph API for a custom UI.

All share information will appear in news feed and the player's timeline

Sharing is important for new user acquiring and user engagement, and is better when using the custom story and integrated UI

Share story using Graph API

Appear in timeline

Feed Gaming

This involves publishing stories on behalf of people using game with a flash object attached. So it is very convenient and flexible for promoting games with various ways, like attach a mini games, a short video created by user in game, or post a high score in a level and encourage friends to beat.

Offer multiple ways to share

If user didn’t allow publish_actions, show them a button that launches the native dialog to share.

Share achievement

The Graph API for Achievements allows you to publish user achievements in your game. Achievements are added to a user's timeline, and can also be surfaced to their friends through their news feed

Share scores and using leaderboard

The Graph API for scores lets game developers build social leaderboards and game-matching by storing players' scores as they play. These scores will appear on players' timelines and in the Games Feed on Facebook

Stories will be generated and shown in news feed and on timeline when a user gets a new high score, or when they pass their friends' scores.

The scores are useful for arising competition between users

Request

Request can let users invite their friends to play game or send gift or ask help. And also sent match making request to strangers.

Request is very useful for attracting new users and re-engage old users.

You can use Frictionless Request to seamlessly request friends.

You should also custom your invite panel for better UI and user filtering.

In-game request for gifting

Deep linking

Deep linking is a better way to let the invited player directly go to the wanted the game point.

Notification

You can use notification to inform user about new feature or gifting them to re-engage non-active friends. But carefully don’t spam.

Monetization

Virtual currency

Virtual currency is a good way for user purchases in game and can be bought via 80+ payment methods in over 50 countries.

Subscription

A good way to have a period stream income

Gift-card

Use Facebook gift card to increase income and user-interactions.

Earn coins with offers

Let user who want to play game freely earn coins through completing advertiser offers.

Payer promotion

Allow discounts for specific users. Price differentiation may be a good way to increase revenues.

Sales and events

A good way to increase revenue.

APPLE

Apple also feature its game center, with its large user numbers, and affluent sociality. Game center let you easily interact with friends, and challenge each other.

Distribution

APP STORE

The most important place to promote your app, so carefully upload your app name, icons, app previews, screenshots, descriptions, what’s news, keywords, and category.

Game center

Friends

Allow you to create avatar, add friends and interactive with them.

Leaderboard

You can have single leaderboards, combined leaderboards, leaderboard sets. Freely control them for your needs.

Achievement

You can challenge your friends via achievements. Both in game and in game center

Group

A group is two or more apps that share leaderboards and achievements. Once an app is part of a group, it no longer has its own leaderboards or achievements: it participates in the leaderboards and achievements defined for the group.

Challenge

You can challenge your friend with achievement and leaderboard score.

Multi-play game

Players can invite their friends or be connected to anonymous players.

Turn-based game

In-game voice chat

Allows your game to provide voice communication between two iPhones

Google play

Google play is an open source platform for your utilization. With its bigger user base than any other mobile platform, you can reach friends easily.

Distribution

The Google Play is the biggest and recognizable plays to promote android game, so carefully fill the forms about the game, you will get more users. You can also analyze the data with Google Analytics.

Play Games Services

Save game data to the cloud

Save game data, so users can continue their game when coming back.

Events and quest

Define the events for collecting data, which will be used for quest.

And the quest is useful for challenging users and rewards them when they completed quests. It forms the core play loops that engage users.

Real-time Multiplayer

You can create a room, invite friends and auto-match for a real time match. The invitation will sent to friends. You can also message connected players.

Turn-based Multiplayer

You can invite friends, auto-match strangers to play turn-based game, and all the invitation and notification will be sent to users.

Achievement

You can use achievement to encourage completion between users, and make progression in new feature.

Leaderboard

Play games has two type of leaderboard. Social leaderboard and public leaderboard. Social leaderboard is made of people who are in user’s circle and share data, public leaderboard is made of people who are strangers and share date.

Gifts and requests

MIXI

Mixi is Japanese biggest social platform, its users mainly are young people and fond of casual games, Mixi is similar to Facebook, let user share their game experience easily, but lack of cross-platform supports.

User graph

You can obtain information that distinguishes the app user called userHash.

People API enables you to obtain information on a user and who the user is connected to.

So it is the basic user graph

Invite friends

Like other Facebook, the Invite friends feature is a must-have in social game, you can make use of this viral feature to get user base larger and larger.

Request

Allow user sent a request to friends or sent gifts.

Send Activities(share)

Send Activities like Sharing in Facebook, user can share their activities to other users.

The created Activity is published in the feed list on the user’s profile page as well as on pages of Friends of the user.

Messages

Messages indicate the message-sending service among mixi users provided by mixi.

You can let users type the contents displayed in the pop-up window to type the message. After that, the sent message is delivered to the destination mailbox.

The mixi app can include the URL to external website, and the mixi app start URL with parameter.

Post mixi Voice

User can easily post the various experiences on the mixi app for communication with friends.

mixi Payment

User use mixi payments for purchasing virtual items. Mixi payments can be bought by real currency.

Using the mixi payment for PCs, the item transaction using mixi payments can be incorporated into mixi app for PCs.

Independent domain APP method

The independent domain method is different from build-in web frame app method, you can use the independent domain for app lunching and custom your app.

There are some pro of this method:

·You can freely promote your app through your domain.

·You will not confined to the web frame size, and freely customize your app graph size.

·Users can login at any time, this give you a chance to present app information to attract their eyes first.

Mobaga

Mobaga is the Japanese biggest game platform, and its users are harder users than Mixi, so it is more convenient for monetization.

Acquiring users profiles and friends profiles

Acquiring user and friends profiles is the basic of social game platform.

Send activities(share)

Activities are users’ action history, such as “(Name) recorded a new high score” and “(Name) has moved to the next level”. Sent activities are displayed in chronological order on the “My Page” of the user’s friends.

Saving, acquiring, and deleting application data

Your data can be saving, so users can continue last session.

Message

Allow notifying users from applications.

Sending MiniMails

A pop-up screen appears on the user’s screen in order to create a MiniMail. Once the user sends the MiniMail, the message goes into the recipient’s Inbox.

Inviting a Mobatomo (Friends) to an application

You can invite friends to join a game, and the invitation will appear in friends’ mini-mail box

Make Request to external servers

In the Mobage open platform, user profile information, social statistics information, and so forth is provided through an API. Unique partner information and a lot of other information on the Internet beyond the above can also be utilized. gadgets.io.makeRequest() method is an API for making these possible.

Displaying MiniMessages

OpenSocial has a feature that displays messages to users like simple dialog. 

Displaying Tabs

OpenSocial has a feature that displays messages to users with tab dialogs. 

Writing Diary Entries

In Mobage, users can write diary entries and share them with other users. An API is provided in the Mobage open platform that allows this feature to be used from applications. If the API is used, a pop-up window for creating a diary entry appears on the user's screen.

Acquiring an Avatar

Each Mobage user has an avatar. An API is offered in Mobage Open Platform so that users can use their avatars within applications.

Inputting and Displaying Free Text

The Mobage open platform has an API for acquiring and saving free text that users have input. The saved text is monitored. You can use this creating message room.

Billing Items With Moba Coin

Billing items in Mobage is done with a virtual currency called “Moba Coin”. Moba Coins can be used on both PC and mobile devices, and users can make purchases with their mobile carrier account, Web Money, credit card, etc.

Leaderboard

Achievement

 

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